Perched Atop Pollicipes, Lottia digitalis is a Work of Camouflage

In the image below, barnacles cloak a vertical wall rising above a sand filled tide pool. You’ll encounter scenes like this on exposed coastlines around the world, wherever there is a rocky intertidal. Here, the barnacles are goose barnacles, Pollicipes polymerus. Look for them where surf crashes against jutting rocks and headlands. Take a closer…

Read More

Surfbirds Live Up to Their Name on the Winter Range

Ah, those little surfbirds, how they they love a low tide. Low water exposes their winter feeding grounds. This flock seemed oblivious to anything but feeding. The rocks had a fresh growth of algae and apparently hosted lots of prey. Wintering on rocky surf-swept shores, the surfbirds’s dark plumage blends in nicely. Is it camouflage?…

Read More

Harmony in Nucella

Nucella feeds in harmony on their rocky mid and high intertidal grounds. You hardly ever find a loner. Harmony in Nucella, however, means a sight of wreckage for acorn barnacles, Balanus glandula. Nucella drills into the shell and eats the barnacle within. It may be a breach of etiquette to post a violent predator-prey scene in a…

Read More

Brandt’s Cormorant Doesn’t Survive Attempt to Swallow Barred Surfperch

Have you ever taken too big a bite? This Brandt’s cormorant did, presumably, and paid the ultimate price. A group of my friends, and my sis too, decided to spend New Year’s morning with their dogs on off-leash Carmel Beach, California. There, they made this curious discovery in the drift line. The slim neck of…

Read More

A Redtail Surfperch Photo Shoot

Back in mid October I spent part of a day trying to get some new shots of one of my favorite surf zone fishes, the redtail surfperch, Amphistichus rhodoterus. I didn’t get a lot of redtail participation, and as I explain below, I didn’t spend much time with those that did. My photo shoot wasn’t a…

Read More

Alloniscus of the Backshore

You can count on the backshore to get short changed by us intertidal types. Perched just above the reach of tide, it’s a little bench of sand between beach and foredune. Physical forces at play on the backshore set it apart from other exposed outer coast habitats. Sandy shorelines don’t generate much spray, so there’s…

Read More

The Pale Beach Hopper, Megalorchestia columbiana

It’s fall and outer coast beach hoppers rejoice. Algal drift washes ashore and hoppers are abundant and active in the drift line. There is a lot of hopper activity on, around, and under all the wave-deposited treasures. You can see abundant shows around this sea lettuce, and even more under the edges. Beach hoppers aren’t…

Read More

Sand Cycles

On my home beaches and on beaches around the world, sand accumulates seasonally during calm weather and erodes during periods of more active weather and bigger surf. The ups and downs of sand accumulation can go unnoticed, unless you have a landmark. In this post I trace cycles of sand accumulation and loss on some…

Read More

Before and After Sea Star Wasting Syndrome: Three Comparative Photos Show Rapid Changes in the Rocky Intertidal

The most recent bout of sea star wasting syndrome has been with us on the west coast for a couple of years. It’s worth asking if we see any changes in rocky intertidal communities. Below, I show three pairs of photos from a single site in northern Oregon. The first photo in each pair is…

Read More

A Surfperch Sexfecta Journal

This is a guest post by Michael Westphal. It is his account of his field trip, executed on the central California coast with the sole objective of collecting six closely related sand-dwelling surfperches, in a single day. This journal accompanies Life History of the Livebearing Calico Surfperch, Amphistichus koelzi (Teleostei: Embiotocidae), which Mike presented July…

Read More